What are our dogs trying to say when they whine?
We often hear our dogs whimper, but we don't always know why they do it. Whining is one of the most versatile forms of communication from our pooches, and knowing the different meanings of it might help you understand it a little better. Of course, context will always help you understand what your pooch's whines mean, but let's still take a moment to look at the reasons why your dog may whine.
What do my dog's little squeaks mean?
1/ Whining can mean that your dog is injured
There are only so many ways our furry friends can communicate with us, so we have to be careful when they do. Dogs are very proud creatures, and they don't like to admit that they are in pain, let alone in front of you. But as pet parents, we need to make sure we are listening and caring for them.
If you hear your pooch crying, check for injuries or bites, including paws, to see if that's the reason your little furball is squealing.
If your dog is a little older, it's likely that he's suffering from joint pain (some breeds of dogs are much more prone to this type of condition). Joint disease affects up to 65% of dogs over the age of 7, and is also one of the leading causes of death in dogs.
Any veterinarian seeing a dog with joint problems, such as hip dysplasia and arthritis, will recommend increasing the amount of glucosamine in his diet. Glucosamine helps maintain the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints, thus helping to reduce the friction produced by certain movements, whether sudden or sustained, and to combat short and long-term pain and discomfort. Any good joint supplement should contain glucosamine, and these supplements are generally used for prevention or early intervention, as they are safe for long-term use, just like our Move supplement ;)
2/ Whining can mean your dog is anxious or stressed
When dogs feel stressed, they are likely to whine before they bark.
You can look for other signs of stress or anxiety, such as cowering, licking his lips, panting, pacing and pulling his tail. Dogs that feel overwhelmed or stressed may also not respond to your instructional cues at that time.
This type of stress can occur when you are trying to train your dog. If you notice your dog whining during training, you need to change something; perhaps the location or method you are using does not make him feel confident or upset, or if it is in a group setting, he may not like being around other people or dogs. If your dog is stressed during training, he will not be able to learn and this can lead to frustration for both of you as well as some trauma for your doggie in the worst case.
3/ A whimper can mean that the dog is calmed down
Socialization can be scary or stressful for some dogs, especially if they haven't been formally trained to meet other dogs and people. Therefore, less confident dogs may soothe you or the situation, rather than openly greeting strangers.
What whining dogs do in these circumstances will be related to fear or stress, as they perceive this new being as a threat. Other behaviors you may notice are tucking their tail, holding their ears back, avoiding eye contact, crouching or turning away from the stranger.
If your dog exhibits these behaviors when meeting new people or animals, it's time to train him. It may be a lack of confidence, which you can correct, or it may be specific training for meeting new friends.
Overcoming this fear will put an end to the whining and give your dog much more confidence!
4/ Whining can mean they're excited
When our dogs are excited, they make plenty of noise, and you've probably noticed that whining is one of those many noises! You'll know your dog is excited when he starts wagging his body and tail, which is often accompanied by a high-pitched whine.
It's likely that the most excitable puppies will make even louder and bigger gestures, such as barking, jumping and perhaps looking a little crazy. If you think your dog is too excitable in certain situations, such as meeting new people, it's worth training him to be calmer or more self-controlled, which can be done at home or with an ethical obedience trainer.
5/ Whining can mean that your puppy is seeking your attention.
It is always hard to leave your dog alone, no matter how old he is, and especially if he is crying. Whining can be a sound that represents the sadness he feels when he no longer has your attention, and it's very common in puppies.
Unfortunately, we have to put up with whining when they're very young, or they'll retain this behavior. And sometimes that whining can turn into barking when they're trying to get attention or other treats from you.
Give your dog attention when he's not whining, and he'll learn that noises won't get him what he wants.
Dog-to-dog communication: Are they trained or not ?
Dogs that are not trained from a young age may continue to whine and bark for attention their entire lives. If you have adopted a dog at an advanced age and it whines for food or affection, even though it will require more time, it is never too late to train him.
Dogs that have been abandoned or neglected may whine due to fear or stress, which can be treated with careful and gentle training. It is very important not to punish dogs for whining, regardless of age or training level. Instead, you should use positive reinforcement when they behave properly, such as waiting patiently for food instead of whining, barking or crying.
On the other hand, there are ways to train dogs to whine when necessary. You can teach your puppy to communicate with you when he needs something, such as going outside when he needs to go to the bathroom.
Be sure to teach your furry friend to behave the way you want him to behave in the long run, because once he's learned that, it will be difficult, and unfair, to teach him to act differently.
If you have the opportunity, a professional training class can be a fantastic way to teach your dog good behavior and communication.
When choosing a class, make sure the trainer's methods are caring, positive and reward-based. If a class or trainer suggests punishment or the use of equipment such as choke chains or electric collars, avoid them at all costs ; these classes are both cruel and stressful and are ultimately an ineffective ways of training a dog. These methods only ensure that your dog will fear humans and you. Dog training should focus on praise, food and play, not scolding or physical pain.
If not, there are many dog charities that offer free training videos online!
Remember, patience is a virtue and your dog is new to this behavior you want him to learn! He has no intention of misbehaving, and the more your dog settles down, the better he will be at understanding you and improving his communication and behavior.
Our puppies want our love and attention, just as we want theirs. But there are certain ways they should try to communicate that to us.
Whining is generally considered bad behavior, so good ethical trainers have methods to combat this behavior. Once your dog learns that it's not the right thing to do, it will be easier for you to know if the whining is due to something serious, like pain or stress.